Skip to main content

tv   60 Minutes on CNBC  CNBC  October 30, 2012 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

9:00 pm
>> narrator: in this episode of "american greed: the fugitives"... they were the heady, get-rich-quick days of the dot-com boom. >> promising internet riches was the way to get into somebody's wallet. >> narrator: among the companies that raises millions -- an online-video start-up with a famous pitchman who exudes trust. >> i'm sure you've heard of it. it's called the "internet." >> narrator: but the website is a sham. its only purpose is bilking investors of millions, and when the feds come knocking, one of the men who's allegedly running the scheme heads to sea. but first, street criminals turn to white-collar crime. >> this is the first time that i had seen people who graduated from narcotics, violence, and pimping to a million-dollar bank fraud. >> narrator: the feds say a young woman teams up with her
9:01 pm
gangster boyfriend and orchestrates a nationwide credit-card scheme. but the law closes in, and the fraud's alleged mastermind hits the road. [ tires screech ] february 2009. at the federal courthouse in sacramento, charles barksdale, a gang member turned scam artist, pleads guilty to running a massive bank fraud. barksdale and the mother of his child, neisha jackson, have run a network of scammers that stole more than $2.5 million from banks across the country. they've found there's a way to pull off a bank heist that's easier than using a gun.
9:02 pm
recently, "american greed: the fugitives" spoke with barksdale from a federal prison, where he said he always knew how the scam would end up. barksdale gets nearly 11 years in prison, but prosecutors say, in truth, jackson was the brains behind the scheme, and is facing a sentence that fits her role as the scam's alleged leader. >> neisha jackson was looking at some years. there's no doubt about it. >> narrator: matthew segal is an assistant u.s. attorney in sacramento who prosecuted barksdale. in october 2011, he's back in court, ready to put this massive case to bed. >> there we are in the morning, and it's time for neisha jackson, actually, to be sentenced. her lawyer's there, and i'm there. the judge is there. but no jackson.
9:03 pm
>> narrator: as time passes, jackson's lawyer says she's gotten a phone call from her client. jackson says she's not there because she's in the hospital. segal isn't buying it. >> given that the entire nature of this case was using the phones for fraud, i only would have been comfortable if i had seen jackson right in front of me. >> narrator: his doubts are soon backed up. >> somebody went to the hospital and she was not in the hospital. she was on the run. >> narrator: the u.s. marshals service is searching for neisha jackson. she's a fugitive from justice, and the feds say it's likely she's using her criminal know-how to fund her life on the run. bozeman, montana. a gateway to yellowstone national park, it's a long day's drive from barksdale and
9:04 pm
jackson's home in sacramento. in the summer of 2007, a young woman from kentucky named patience isaacs arrives in town. she's come to meet james kevin dixon, a.k.a. "cheez" -- a man who romanced her online. he's a pimp from las vegas, and like barksdale, whom he eventually works for, he's a former gang member with a lengthy criminal record. >> ms. isaacs thought she was mr. dixon's girlfriend. >> narrator: robert lasky is the fbi's assistant special agent in charge for montana. >> clearly, he took advantage of her being naive. >> narrator: dixon has a strange way of showing his affection. instead of taking ms. isaacs out to dinner, he has her take out pre-paid debit cards in her own name. a few months after they meet, they start going to banks. while dixon waits in the car,
9:05 pm
she puts the plastic to use. >> she flashed her credit card. she said, "can i do a cash advance on a credit card?" and i said, "yes." and she said, "but i'm not sure what my limit is. can i use your phone to call my credit-card company?" >> narrator: meay santigilia is a teller at first security bank in bozeman. she comes face-to-face with patience isaacs in september of 2007. >> she tried to get me on the phone with her credit-card company representative as soon as she walked in. >> narrator: across town, ms. isaacs goes into many banks like this one, where her goal is simple -- ask for a cash advance, and get the teller on the phone. >> she, basically, hands the teller a pre-paid credit card and asks for between $9,000 and $10,000 in cash.
9:06 pm
>> of course, that's declined, because this debit card only has about $25 on it. >> she would tell the teller, "oh, i know i have more money in there," or, "this has happened before." >> "what you need to do is to call my card company." she would hold up the card and say, "here, the number is 1-800-- whatever." >> narrator: once on the phone, the so-called "credit-card representative" informs the teller that there are, in fact, sufficient funds on isaacs' card. >> she was a fast-talker, and she said, "my client's limit is $10,000, and i can give you the authorization number right now. i will walk you through to manually authorize the transaction." >> narrator: other tellers are told something similar. >> "there is enough money on this card. you can carry out this transaction. follow my instructions and press these buttons on the keypad." >> narrator: if they follow along, the tellers punch in an
9:07 pm
authorization code provided by the voice on the phone. the code is sent to the credit-card company and approves the cash advance, no matter how much money is actually on the card. but there's something fishy about the telephone number the tellers have been connected to. >> that's not the number on the back of the card, and it's not the number of the credit-card company. it's really 1-800-co-conspirator, and the person answering the phone is neisha jackson. >> ms. jackson had some knowledge of bank policies and procedures, and she also had a manual that allowed her to discuss how to force the transactions through. >> narrator: to protect banks, law enforcement won't say precisely how the codes worked. neither will barksdale, but his reasons are hardly altruistic. in santigilia's case, she senses
9:08 pm
that something is wrong. she doesn't punch in the code, and warns other employees at first security. but at other banks, many tellers believe jackson is really a credit-card rep, and fall for the scheme. >> narrator: jackson's alleged skills at impersonating a credit-card employee could be quite convincing. >> you know, the results speak for themselves. >> narrator: at bank after bank, patience isaacs leaves with nearly $10,000 in her hands, returns to the car, and hands the money over to dixon. >> it's astonishing. it really was amazing that they were able to carry this out. >> narrator: but not all the money stolen in montana belongs to dixon and ms. isaacs. the lion's share of the cash is flowing back to charles barksdale and the alleged voice on the phone,
9:09 pm
neisha jackson. >> jackson and barksdale got half of the money because they controlled the "800" number and had the knowledge of how to carry out the scheme. >> narrator: while barksdale and jackson sit at the apex of this complex web of fraud, prosecutors say it's clear who was really running the show. >> none of this could have happened without jackson's knowledge. >> narrator: when "american greed: the fugitives" returns, charles barksdale's one-time girlfriend neisha jackson may be the brains behind this operation, but are other women being forced to take the risks that help make it all possible? [ tires screech ]
9:10 pm
9:11 pm
♪ atmix of the world needs a broader that's why we're supplying natural gas to generate cleaner electricity... that has around 50% fewer co2 emissions than coal. and it's also why, with our partner in brazil, shell is producing ethanol - a biofuel made from renewable sugarcane. >>a minute, mom! let's broaden the world's energy mix. let's go. check for more! well, i guess i can double check... my watch! [ male announcer ] it pays to double check, with state farm.
9:12 pm
9:13 pm
[ tires screech ] >> narrator: in 2007, kevin dixon and patience isaacs hit banks across montana as part of a multi-million dollar cash-advance scheme. dixon, seen here in what appears to be a cellphone video, drives along flaunting wads of cash.
9:14 pm
half the money is going back to the scheme's accused masterminds, charles barksdale and neisha jackson, according to fbi assistant special agent in charge, robert lasky. >> ms. jackson would be the brains or the technical expertise. he was the one running the overall organization. he was the one who would enforce it. because mr. barksdale had what they call "street cred," most of the middlemen would not go against him. they would understand that there would be significant consequences for not providing him his tribute. >> narrator: barksdale's cut isn't just coming from montana. it's pouring in from crews across the country. it's a high-tech stickup using a phone and a pre-paid credit card instead of a gun. >> this scheme was carried out in california, in arizona, in
9:15 pm
oregon, in montana, in texas, in louisiana, in connecticut, in ohio, in pennsylvania, and that's just what i can remember right now. >> narrator: speaking from a federal prison, barksdale says there was a simple way in which he pieced together this far-flung matrix of fraud. barksdale and jackson use a middleman named donald taylor to recruit scammers across the country to go into banks. >> donald taylor was sort of the johnny appleseed of this bank fraud. he would travel around the country and bring in people to the scheme. >> narrator: he brings in the montana crew, a team in indiana, and scammers in arizona, using a simple pitch. >> taylor basically approaches people, saying, "this is fast, easy money, a quick way to make $2,000." >> narrator: the male-female dynamic at work in these crews
9:16 pm
follows a pattern. pimps recruited by taylor send young women, dubbed "runners," into the banks. they take most of the risk, but keep just a fraction of the money. >> this scheme could not have worked without the ability of men to manipulate these women who were going into the banks. >> narrator: barksdale disagrees. from july of 2006 through the beginning of 2008, money stolen in banks trickles back to sacramento in small chunks -- $4,000 here, $5,000 there, deposited into accounts belonging to barksdale and jackson. it all adds up. >> nationwide, about $2.5 million was taken during the scam. of that, $1.25 million went back
9:17 pm
to sacramento or ms. jackson and mr. barksdale. >> narrator: in the end, it's the banks, not the credit-card companies, who are left on the hook. after all, bank employees authorized the cash advances, not realizing the cards are little more than worthless pieces of plastic. but barksdale says he feels no remorse, and has his own opinions about the banking industry. but, according to the fbi, this was hardly a case of robbing the rich to give to the poor. >> he wasn't buying baseballs and bats for the kids down the street. he was buying expensive watches, luxury cars, expensive dinners, and going out and enjoying himself. he was not a robin hood and was not contributing significantly to his community. >> narrator: barksdale has ties to the northern california
9:18 pm
hip-hop scene. around the time of the scam, he flaunts his wealth in a rap song he releases called "dollaz in my pocket." when "american greed: the fugitives" returns, the fbi tracks this massive fraud across the country, and into the seats of an nfl stadium. >> they were asked to put their nachos and beer down, and put in handcuffs. nachos and beer down, and put in handcuffs. [ tires screech ]
9:19 pm
9:20 pm
i'm an expert on softball. and tea parties. i'll have more awkward conversations than i'm equipped for because i'm raising two girls on my own. i'll worry about the economy more than a few times before they're grown. but it's for them, so i've found a way. who matters most to you says the most about you. massmutual is owned by our policyholders so they matter most to us. massmutual. we'll help you get there.
9:21 pm
a short word that's a tall order. up your game. up the ante. and if you stumble, you get back up. up isn't easy, and we ought to know. we're in the business of up. everyday delta flies a quarter of million people while investing billions improving everything from booking to baggage claim. we're raising the bar on flying and tomorrow we will up it yet again. if we want to improve our schools... ... what should we invest in? maybe new buildings? what about updated equipment? they can help, but recent research shows... ... nothing transforms schools like investing in advanced teacher education. let's build a strong foundation. let's invest in our teachers so they can inspire our students. let's solve this.
9:22 pm
[ tires screech ] >> narrator: at the end of 2007, the fbi in montana, the secret service, and local police departments across the country see a connection in separate cases of cash-advance schemes nationwide. >> what seemed to be the pattern in all of those cases was that runners and handlers were being sent out to the far-flung areas of the country, and money was coming back to california. >> narrator: in august 2007, indianapolis police arrest a crew hitting banks in indiana. according to court documents, one of the fraudsters has gone into banks, posing as an out-of-town comedian who's been robbed and needs a cash advance.
9:23 pm
in montana, investigators are catching up with kevin dixon and patience isaacs, as well. >> so, the bank up here on the left that we're approaching is first security bank. so, this bank over here is sky federal credit union. this is called rocky mountain bank. if you notice the banks that they picked out in bozeman, numerous banks were local banks versus the larger chain banks. >> narrator: andy knight is a detective in the bozeman police department. >> i got word from one of the banks that they had had a suspicious transaction come through. it was a large-enough amount of money where it definitely raised some suspicions. >> narrator: knight learns that scammers have been getting fraudulent cash advances from one side of town to the other, and goes to the fbi's resident agent office in town. when the bureau begins their investigation, it doesn't take
9:24 pm
too much digging to zero in on dixon and patience isaacs. >> for a sophisticated scam of this nature, the bottom-level runners were very unsophisticated. they presented credit cards in their own name and often presented driver's licenses with their names. made our job a lot easier. >> narrator: but, by this point, the montana duo have already left bozeman, taking the scheme with them on a road trip headed east. along the way, they attempt to hit banks in minnesota, wisconsin, indiana, and kentucky. but it's in pittsburgh, pennsylvania, that their cross-country binge of easy money comes to a screeching halt. heinz field is home to the pittsburgh steelers, and it's here that dixon and patience isaacs' crime spree gets sacked. the fbi gets a tip that the duo has tickets to a game, and has agents waiting for them. >> we received quite detailed information where they were
9:25 pm
gonna be sitting. the fbi had two agents sitting in the seats that they were to occupy. when they approached the agents and said, "you're in our seats," they were asked to put their nachos and beer down, and put in handcuffs. >> narrator: their take adds up to $111,000 -- more than 14 times the average bank robbery. on the other side of the country, the law is catching up with another crew of scammers enriched by this scheme. in february 2008, the tucson, arizona, police arrest a crew of criminals hitting banks in the southwest. they have with them a map of wells fargo branches located across southeast arizona, and a slip showing a deposit into charles barksdale's business account -- stupid entertainment, llc. since the days of the old west, wells fargo investigators like darran mazaika have been tracking down bank robbers. >> this was one of the more complex cases that i've worked because of the amount of people
9:26 pm
involved, the numerous states involved. it led to this huge, complex spider web. >> narrator: using barksdale's bank records and wells fargo's surveillance footage, mazaika helps establish the flow of money back to sacramento. >> there were three parts to this cash-advance scheme. the first part here was a cash advance in the amount of $10,500. half an hour later, there was a cash deposit at a second wells fargo branch for half the amount -- for $5,250 into mr. barksdale's account. and then, three hours later, mr. barksdale was in sacramento withdrawing cash out of his account. that's basically it in a nutshell. >> and that was some of the best evidence of barksdale's role and leadership role in the scheme that i could have asked for as a prosecutor. >> narrator: in july 2008, authorities begin searching locations around sacramento, looking for evidence of the crime. at the time, barksdale is in
9:27 pm
county jail outside town on an unrelated charge. prosecutors couldn't be happier. >> all of the jail phone calls are monitored, and we were hoping that he would get on the phone with his co-conspirators and start to talk about it, and he did. >> narrator: among the people barksdale talks to is the voice on the phone who's allegedly been walking tellers through the fraudulent cash advances -- neisha jackson. she calls with bad news. the scam that's been coughing up money has come to an end. in february 2009, barksdale pleads guilty to his role in
9:28 pm
this $2.5 million bank fraud, and is sentenced to nearly 11 years in prison. to this day, there's only one thing he says he wished he had done differently. the next year, the scheme's middleman, donald taylor, also pleads guilty and gets five years. the montana crew goes down, as well. isaacs gets more than two years, and dixon gets six and a half. now the only one left to face justice is charles barksdale's former girlfriend, neisha jackson -- the woman the fbi says truly made the scam possible. >> the whole trick to this scam was the technical expertise on part of ms. jackson. i think it would be more likely that she could have done it without him. >> narrator: jackson pleads guilty to a single count of bank
9:29 pm
fraud. since the day of her sentencing, she has not been seen. >> i have no idea where she is. if we did, she'd be in jail, but i guarantee you, she's probably involved in some kind of illegal activity. >> narrator: jackson is 5'2" tall and weighs 125 pounds. she goes by the names nesha howard and lisa smith, and has a number of tattoos. matthew segal says that, as a fugitive, jackson has a few character traits that may, for a time, serve her well. >> neisha jackson is good at changing her appearance. she's smart, and she's good at seeming to be somebody that she's not. but, at most, that's just gonna earn her some time where she has to look over her shoulder, wondering if the feds are right behind her. >> narrator: up next on "american greed: the fugitives," an alleged dot-com scammer is said to bring in millions using a celebrity pitchman and the promise of internet riches.
9:30 pm
>> it's an i.r.a.-approved investment that puts you exactly where you want to be -- on the ground floor, with nowhere to go but up. ground floor, with nowhere to go but up. [ tires screech ]
9:31 pm
one is for a clean, wedomestic energy future that puts us in control. our abundant natural gas is already saving us money, producing cleaner electricity, putting us to work here in america and supporting wind and solar. though all energy development comes with some risk, we're committed to safely and responsibly producing natural gas. it's not a dream. america's natural gas... putting us in control of our energy future, now. ♪
9:32 pm
[ male announcer ] the way it moves. the way it cleans. everything about the oral-b power brush is simply revolutionary. oral-b power brushes oscillate, rotate and even pulsate to gently loosen and break up that sticky plaque with more brush movements than manual brushes and even up to 50% more than leading sonic technology brushes for a superior clean. oral-b power brushes. go to for the latest offers.
9:33 pm
[ tires screech ] >> narrator: 2011, on the coast of malaysia, a man named jim eberhart posts an online ad selling his 58-foot yacht -- the infinity. allegedly, no stranger to making a sales pitch, eberhart tells prospective buyers the boat is perfect for cruising the world. when it was built, he says, there was no budget.
9:34 pm
what buyers might not know is that there's a reason money was once no object. richard ryan, supervisory special agent with the los angeles fbi, says eberhart ran a sham internet-video company that allegedly bilked investors out of millions, then fled the country. >> mr. eberhart's been a fugitive from justice. the investigation shows that he did wire money to hong kong and then, subsequently, singapore, and this could be the way that mr. eberhart has been facilitating his lifestyle as a fugitive. >> narrator: now on the run for more than a decade, eberhart seems to be thumbing his nose at authorities. he's selling the yacht under his real name. is he desperate for cash, or has he just grown bold after years as a fugitive? >> after several years, some folks tend to let their guard down. however, i'm sure mr. eberhart is constantly looking over his shoulder. >> narrator: in the late 1990s in northern california, a
9:35 pm
revolution is underway. >> internet excitement has created a wall street stampede. fortunes are being made every day. >> internet stocks today -- very hot. transformational industries can have some pretty big rides. this may just be the start of things. >> there was a very significant element of magical thinking going on in this world in the late '90s. >> narrator: during the dot-com boom, michael krantz works as a technology writer for time magazine in san francisco. >> everybody knew that there were fortunes being made all around them, and very, very few people really understood how these fortunes were being made or why, but they knew that if they didn't get their money in, they were gonna miss out. >> narrator: if a person was of the mind-set, it was the perfect place for fraud. >> experts like me were wrong over and over in saying, "this company's gonna be successful, that company won't." nobody knew. james eberhart, running around with his yes entertainment network package, had as plausible a pitch as many legitimate companies who ended
9:36 pm
up being successful. in fact, his pitch actually made sense. >> remember the impact that tv had on our lives? it was revolutionary. well, there's another revolution getting underway. i'm sure you've heard of it. it's called the "internet." >> narrator: years before the launch of youtube, yes entertainment claims to be building something revolutionary -- an online-video network. in 1999, blaine canfield receives a package in the mail from the company. it includes a video starring the company's paid pitchman, actor tom bosley. >> join me as we find out how the yes entertainment network is leading the way in this revolution, and how you can share directly in yes entertainment's success. >> [ chuckles ] you know, i mean, i grew up watching "happy days," and how can you not trust howard cunningham? >> narrator: an investment adviser with years of experience, canfield sees yes entertainment as a high-risk
9:37 pm
personal investment, but one that checks out. >> at that time, you know, it was very possible to invest in an internet start-up company and make millions. i mean, people were doing it every day. >> narrator: canfield sees his chance when he learns that his neighbor's niece is working in an internet start-up company in southern california called yes entertainment. >> i really felt like it was something that could have done very well. in my wildest dreams, i was thinking, "i'm gonna become an instant millionaire." >> narrator: to canfield, yes entertainment's pitch, explained here by a supposed company employee, makes perfect sense. >> and tell us exactly what the yes entertainment network is all about. >> well, a great idea. imagine that, with a click of a mouse, you have dozens of programs to choose from. but, instead of being broadcast over the airwaves, or by cable companies to your tv set, these programs are distributed through the internet. >> it was a good idea. at that time, you know, a lot of
9:38 pm
people were making a lot of money with the internet start-ups. >> narrator: the company says they will attract millions of viewers by giving away their content for free. >> but how can you provide all of this wonderful programming without charging people for it? >> advertising. >> narrator: a slick brochure sent to investors like jim morrione says that ad sales and online product sales will translate into huge returns for those who put in money early. >> "investors become overnight billionaires." [ laughs ] that says it all, doesn't it? >> narrator: to him, the company seems like it has a strong business model, and they appear to have the right team to make it happen. >> the marketing director here, she worked at hp and ricoh. it looked like a good team of people that they were going to bring in here to start up this company. >> narrator: pitch materials sent to investors like morrione trumpet the company's ceo, ronald mulhall. >> they portrayed this guy as a
9:39 pm
successful lawyer, and this was his brainchild. >> narrator: marc blau, the assistant regional director for the securities and exchange commission in los angeles, says mulhall's real résumé was, in truth, much less impressive. >> what they failed to disclose to people was that mr. mulhall had, in fact, been disbarred by the state of california 10 years prior for stealing client money, and, beyond that, he had, really, very little to do with the operation of this company. >> narrator: mulhall is little more than a paid figurehead, and the other people in the brochures are also barely connected to yes entertainment. two men from newport beach, california, are allegedly behind the company -- eugene carriere and jim eberhart. but their names are glaringly absent from the package sent to investors. there may be a reason for that. >> mr. eberhart did have a limited criminal history prior to engaging with yes entertainment.
9:40 pm
>> narrator: according to the s.e.c., two years prior to starting yes entertainment, eberhart helped run a fraudulent investing scheme. though yes claims to have an office in a tower near beverly hills, carriere and eberhart also maintain an address at a not-so-glamorous office park in newport beach. today, 13 years after they teamed up to create yes entertainment, little is known of their personalities. >> we kind of got to know them through the bank records, and the bank records told the story that they were liars. they're two individuals who probably wanted to make a lot of money, and it looks like they did. >> narrator: at the company, the s.e.c. says each man has his own role. >> there's mr. carriere, who was probably in charge of the sales side of the operation, and mr. eberhart was probably more in charge of the nuts and bolts of creating the facade of yes entertainment. >> narrator: and that's what yes entertainment is -- a facade. >> what eberhart was proposing
9:41 pm
was theoretically plausible, probably 10 years too early in terms of the technology, and, certainly, not something that he actually ever had any intention of building. >> narrator: but investors are told the company will soon be going public, and this is their big chance to get in before the stock price soars. >> they were definitely saying, "now's your chance. if you don't do it now, you may regret your delay in not wanting to invest more at the time." >> narrator: in 1999, there are an abundance of similar, real-life success stories out there. >> yahoo!, the internet searcher, is up from $4.50, to almost $400, in three years. >> narrator: and investors say there's something clouding their judgment. >> greed, you know. i mean, that was the whole environment at the time. you know, there was a lot of money to be made, and so, that was the pitch. >> you can get in on the ground floor. >> narrator: canfield puts in an initial $10,000.
9:42 pm
morrione writes a check for $20,000. they're not alone. next on "american greed: the fugitives," the men behind yes entertainment flee, and investors' dreams of internet gold turn to dust. >> i tried to call their offices, and there was no answer. so then, i knew that, "okay, something's going on here." >> narrator: for more about jim eberhart, visit and follow us on twitter @americangreedtv. and follow us on twitter @americangreedtv. we'll be right back.
9:43 pm
9:44 pm
♪ atmix of the world needs a broader that's why we're supplying natural gas to generate cleaner electricity... that has around 50% fewer co2 emissions than coal. and it's also why, with our partner in brazil, shell is producing ethanol - a biofuel made from renewable sugarcane. >>a minute, mom! let's broaden the world's energy mix. let's go. to volunteer to help those in need. when a twinge of back pain surprises him. morning starts in high spirits, but there's a growing pain in his lower back. as lines grow longer, his pain continues to linger. but after a long day of helping others, he gets some helpful advice. just two aleve have the strength to keep back pain away all day. today, jason chose aleve. just two pills for all day pain relief. try aleve d for strong, all day long
9:45 pm
sinus and headache relief.
9:46 pm
>> narrator: in the late 1990s, an online-video company called yes entertainment is tapping in to the dot-com investing mania. >> we all know how successful internet-based companies can be. and there's certainly no rule that says you have to be under 30 to make money with the internet. >> narrator: to bring in cash, the men behind the company, eugene carriere and jim eberhart, allegedly turn to so-called "boiler rooms." >> they were the sales arm of yes entertainment, calling, day after day, potential investors to invest in yes entertainment and what they had to offer. >> narrator: sales offices dot the map from coast to coast and into canada. the way it works is this -- boiler-room salesmen, called "fronters," assess the wealth of prospective clients. >> and their job is to, literally, take a "lead list," which is a list a boiler-room operator has purchased -- has names, addresses, and phone
9:47 pm
numbers in the thousands. and the fronter's job is to, literally, go through that list and make hundreds, if not thousands, of calls a day. >> playing the numbers seems to bring in the dollars. >> narrator: but most investors don't write a check after just one call. if the fronter hooks into someone who seems like an easy mark with money to spend, yes entertainment sends them a glossy brochure, the tom bosley video, and time magazine articles written by michael krantz and others. among these is a piece entitled "heroes of a wild and crazy stock ride." >> you look at something like this, and you think, "look at this schmo. why is he worth $28 billion and i'm not?" you know, these people don't look like anything particularly special. they just have the smiles of people who got there first. >> narrator: once a potential investor is primed with the idea that internet gold is within their grasp, it's time for a second boiler room employee to call -- "the closer."
9:48 pm
>> and the closer is this high-pressure salesperson -- very experienced, knows which buttons to push on a person to get them to sign on the dotted line and to send the money. >> narrator: closers work off a script prepared by carriere. it's custom-tailored to capitalize on the dot-com explosion. >> "look, i'm not allowed to say this to you, but we're in discussions with a huge company. did you ever hear of intel? we're in discussions with them for them to purchase us, and when that happens -- oh, my god. this thing's gonna just blow up like you never saw. so you have a unique opportunity to get in on the ground floor at a rock-bottom price." and it goes like that on and on, and they will call and badger and call and call until you sign on the dotted line. >> narrator: to help persuade reluctant investors, yes entertainment gives boiler-room salesmen a document entitled "questions and answers -- overcoming objections." >> for example, "i'm not interested." "are you familiar with yahoo!,, or ebay? wait for answer. if you had the opportunity to
9:49 pm
invest in any one of these companies before they went public, would you have done it? wait for answer. i know i would have. if you felt you might have that same opportunity right now with yes entertainment, would you want to know more about it?" >> narrator: in carriere's words, the pitch works by "pressing the greed button in a major way." not everyone goes for it, but many do. in all, yes entertainment rings in approximately $14 million from more than 800 investors. but, in newport beach, most of the money isn't being used to build the website of the future. nearly half is paid out as commissions to boiler rooms. the rest fares no better. >> well over half of the investment money actually went into the pockets of mr. eberhart and his co-defendants. >> narrator: by the summer of 1999, bank records show that the scheme's alleged masterminds are wiring cash to a secret account in hong kong at a fevered pitch. they're socking away between $3 million to $5 million.
9:50 pm
it's as if they sense the end drawing near, and it is. in july, a boiler-room employee talks to investigators. >> this is somebody who is somewhat disturbed by what she saw. the high-pressure of the statements being made in the sales scripts and just, kind of, the general tenor of what was going on. >> narrator: even as investigators begin to close in, carriere and eberhart allegedly re-double their efforts to bring in money. already in for $10,000, blaine canfield says that, in october, he gets an unusual phone call from jim eberhart. >> jim called me, and that's when he told me that intel actually was looking at buying the company, that they might buy it before it went public. and he convinced me to put more money in, and i put another $20,000 in at that time. >> narrator: the timing couldn't be worse. >> it was like a week or two before they shut them down. >> narrator: in late october, agents from the fbi and other federal agencies raid the
9:51 pm
offices of yes entertainment. >> shortly after the search warrants were conducted, mr. eberhart and some co-defendants cleaned up some of the offices that were not searched, destroyed vital records and documents, and appeared to have left the country. >> narrator: as word of the company's collapse begins to spread, canfield begins to see eberhart's last-minute pitch in a new light. >> they were trying to get as much money as they could before they took off. a little extra money for his boat. >> narrator: when "american greed: the fugitives" returns, the hunt for jim eberhart takes a surprising turn. >> well, i was angry, and i wanted to jump on a plane and go down and track him down in malaysia, 'cause that's where i'd heard he was at. malaysia, 'cause that's where i'd heard he was at. [ tires screech ]
9:52 pm
[ rosa ] i'm rosa and i quit smoking with chantix.
9:53 pm
when the doctor told me that i could smoke for the first week... i'm like...yeah, ok... little did i know that one week later i wasn't smoking. [ male announcer ] along with support, chantix is proven to help people quit smoking. it reduces the urge to smoke. some people had changes in behavior, thinking or mood, hostility, agitation, depressed mood and suicidal thoughts or actions while taking or after stopping chantix. if you notice any of these stop taking chantix and call your doctor right away. tell your doctor about any history of depression or other mental health problems, which could get worse while taking chantix. don't take chantix if you've had a serious allergic or skin reaction to it. if you develop these stop taking chantix and see your doctor right away as some can be life-threatening.
9:54 pm
if you have a history of heart or blood vessel problems, tell your doctor if you have new or worse symptoms. get medical help right away if you have symptoms of a heart attack. use caution when driving or operating machinery. common side effects include nausea, trouble sleeping and unusual dreams. it helps to have people around you... they say, you're much bigger than this. and you are. [ male announcer ] ask your doctor if chantix is right for you.
9:55 pm
>> narrator: when the yes entertainment scam makes its debut, jim eberhart allegedly remains behind the curtain. but when he goes fugitive, it seems he almost treasures being center stage. in 2002, a newspaper article puts the avid sailor in malaysia, where he skippers his yacht, the infinity, to a first-place finish at a regatta. back in the u.s., authorities seize funds left in yes entertainment bank accounts, but investors get back just pennies on the dollar. they are left wondering what happened to eberhart. >> there's nothing i can do about it except hope that he does get caught eventually and brought to justice. [ sighs ] >> narrator: investor blaine canfield even considers taking matters into his own hands. >> well, i was angry, and i wanted to jump on a plane and go
9:56 pm
down and track him down in malaysia, 'cause that's where i'd heard he was at. >> narrator: in 2005, canfield and other victims get a hint that life on the lam isn't just a breeze. nearly six years after the s.e.c. first alleged that yes entertainment was a scam, eberhart's partner, eugene carriere, is arrested in pattaya, thailand, and sent back to the u.s. in 2007, he pleads guilty to two counts of mail fraud and is sentenced to serve three years in prison. but even carriere's capture doesn't seem to deter eberhart from telegraphing his whereabouts. though an fbi "wanted" poster mentions his love of sailing and his boat, in 2011, he goes online to sell this same boat using his real name. after 12 years on the run, he seems to have little fear of anyone connecting the dots. >> oddly enough, he didn't change the name on the boat. oddly enough, he continued
9:57 pm
sailing and, really, conducting the same activity that he had been doing before he left. >> narrator: and, oddly enough, the fbi says it's a chance encounter that finally leads to eberhart's arrest. the island of langkawi in malaysia is a sailor's paradise. it's here that, 10 years earlier, eberhart captained his boat to victory in a regatta. and, for a sailor on the run, it could be the perfect hideout. gerd zimmerman, a german expatriate who operates a sailing tour company, says that he first encountered eberhart here at the royal langkawi yacht club in 2005.
9:58 pm
after years on the run, it seems eberhart may have been trying to sell the infinity to raise cash. according to the fbi, eberhart's life as a fugitive comes to an
9:59 pm
end when an australian policeman takes a trip to langkawi in 2012. >> he was familiar with the eberhart case and familiar with the fact that eberhart was believed to be sailing on the infinity. when he saw the boat, he realized that eberhart was also in the vicinity. >> narrator: the fbi says the officer tips them off. working with malaysian police, the feds arrest the alleged scammer in may of 2012, just as we were finishing production on this episode of "american greed: the fugitives." >> because he was using an expired passport, they were able to deport him to the united states, and he was back in the u.s. within a week. >> narrator: after nearly 13 years as a fugitive, eberhart is now behind bars in los angeles, where he is awaiting trial -- no longer a los angeles, where he is awaiting trial -- no longer a white-collar fugitive. -- captions by vitac --


disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on